Alyse Wax weighs in on the season finale of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL.
Liz and Iris have been running the hotel for about a year. They liquidated the Countess art collection to get the place redone new carpet, furniture, a fresh coat of paint. Of course, there is one thing they couldnt change: the sometimes-homicidal spirit that wander the halls. Most people would hold an exorcism; Liz holds a staff meeting. Among the ghosts still hanging around the Cortez are Sally, Will, Marcy, the Swedish girls, Miss Evers, Woo, and the Lumberjack. It is only Sally and Will who are killing the guests; the others prefer to play with them, watch them, have sex with them. March joins the meeting to back up Liz and Iris on their no killing policy. He found that, rather than spark his interest in more killing, the 10 Commandments murders sated his bloodlust. Wills design empire is going down the toilet so the money will dry up sooner than later, and there are still another ten years before the Cortez is eligible for landmark status.
Sally kills because bringing pain to others is the only way she can bridge the loneliness in her own life. So Iris introduces her to the internet, and through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Sally is born anew. She is an internet celebrity, with more friends and followers than she can count, and she doesn’t have to leave the hotel. She even drops her hypodermic out the window.
Wills fashion label is all but dead. According to Liz, couture has been shuttered because he never hired any other designers. Sunglasses and fragrance have kept the business afloat. Will has never been reported dead; rumors of his whereabouts grow stranger and seedier with every story. Will gives Liz power of attorney over his company, and she cruises into the boardroom, filled with two dozen old white men, and wields her power. With Liz as the face of company, and Will the Howard Hughes-esque figure behind the scenes, his fashion label once again becomes a storied empire.
Liz has never been happier. Besides becoming the devil in Prada, her relationship with Douglas has never been better; his wife Janice is the daughter Liz always wanted. Liz is there for the birth of his first grandchild. The only thing missing from her life is Tristan. Why hasnt he appeared to her? Desperate for closure for her friend, Iris brings Billie Dean Howard, noted psychic from season one, to the hotel. Billie reaches out to Tristan, who doesnt want to talk to Liz. Liz thinks that he blames her for his death and wont talk. But someone else will: Donovan. He tells Billie to tell Iris it is like Saturday mornings there, all cartoons and blueberry pancakes just like his mom used to make for him. Iris is at peace.
But traditional happy endings dont belong in this show, and Liz soon discovers she has prostate cancer that has progressed too much for treatment to be of any use. Instead, she decides to go out on her own terms: she wants all the spirits of the Cortez to kill her so she can stay with her family forever. They are all touched by the sentiment and are about to lay into her when the door open. The Countess is there, the first appearance she has made since her death. Liz was the Countess fondest creation, and she wanted to help with her next transition. She slits Lizs throat. As Liz stares over her own, bloody corpse, alone with her thoughts, she gets another visitor. Tristan. He tells her he loves her, and that he stayed away because Liz had more living to do. They kiss passionately.
Devils Night. October 30th, 2022. Jumping into the future, we learn that Billie has been shooting episodes of her popular TV show in the hotel, which brings in a lot of hipster ghost hunters and the like. Every year, on Devils Night, Billie returns to the hotel, hoping to make contact with the 10 Commandments Killer. This year, for no specific reason, John has decided to appear to her and give an interview.
Johns story is far less fulfilling than the others. Told in tiny bits of flashbacks, mixed with his chat with Billie, we learn that after he finished the 10 Commandments murders, he and his family went on the lam. He doesnt want to talk about what happened to his family, but they all know what each other is: two vampires, a serial killer, and a normal little girl. Scarlett, the normal one, is the one who suggests they go home. Back to the Hotel Cortez. Scarlett clearly didnt belong there, so she went to an elite boarding school, the same one Liz sent Declan to. She still had a chance to lead a normal life.
John would kill, I dont know, johns? Junkies? Whoever. He would kill them and take their blood back to Holden and Alex. One night, as he made his way down an alley, the police surrounded him. He pulled a gun out of his waistband, intending to shoot his way out if need be. He took a lot of bullets, all the time trying desperately to get back to the hotel. He was just across the street, but he didnt quite make it. Devils Night is the only night of the year that he can return to the hotel, to Alex and Holden. Scarlett, remarkably well-adjusted, comes home every year so they can spend one night together as a family.
On this Devils Night, John has something special planned for Billie. After she agrees to leave her cameraman and producer behind, he takes her to the murderers dinner. Billie is shocked and overwhelmed to meet Aileen Wuornos, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, and the Zodiac Killer. March shows up, and she is overwhelmed by the evil she picks up from him. She insists she isnt frightened; that she has surrounded herself with a bright white light to keep herself safe. You can almost see John biting back laughter as he hands her a glass of absinthe, which she swigs back without hesitation. When she is properly dopey, the killers force her into a chair, handcuff her, and pull out their pointy weapons. She is given a choice: she can move into the hotel permanently after they take their time killing her; or she can never, ever mention the Hotel Cortez or its inhabitants, and they will let her live. She points out that they have no way of following up; that is when Ramona introduces herself. Billie runs screaming from the hotel.